The New CFPB: A Kinder, Gentler Watchdog

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), under the charge of acting director Mick Mulvaney, will rein in its activities and aim to promote what it is calling a “free market” for financial services, according to Reuters reports.

A memo obtained by the news service said the government watchdog agency, which is not popular with Republican lawmakers, will roll out a new strategic plan this week and lay out the changes to be made under Mulvaney’s direction. He has been expected to reduce the enforcement reach of the CFPB.

“If there is one way to summarize the strategic changes occurring at the Bureau, it is this: We have committed to fulfilling the Bureau’s statutory responsibilities, but go no further,” wrote CFPB chief of staff Kirsten Sutton in a memo sent to CFPB employees.

The memo did not explain how, if it all, any of the CFPB’s previous enforcement actions went further than the charge of the agency. It did state the organization’s charter is to regulate the offering and providing of consumer financial products under the law, and is tasked with educating consumers so they can make smart financial decisions.

The memo did note the CFPB wants to create “free, innovative, competitive and transparent consumer finance markets where the rights of all parties are protected.” It went on to state the government watchdog will seek outside counsel on its decisions and strive to act with “humility and moderation.”

The latest missive out of the CFPB under Mulvaney comes as Democratic lawmakers and consumer advocacy groups are crying foul over its stance on the aftermath of scandals related to Equifax, the credit scoring company that suffered a massive data breach last year. Reuters previously reported the CFPB appears to be scaling back on its inquiry into how the data breach occurred, despite the fact that the personal information of 145.5 million customers in the U.S. was exposed.


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